Did I hurt my eyes while watching the Great American Eclipse?

Alyssa Bailey
August 24, 2017

For example, in a 2002 study, 13 out of 15 patients in England with solar retinopathy resulting from viewing an eclipse in 1999 had normal vision in an eye exam eight to 12 months later. But the reason we hear so much about the dangers of it during an eclipse is because, naturally, people's burning curiosity tempt them to look directly at the sun, even if it's just for a couple of seconds.

He looked at it for just 20 seconds, he estimates. If you are anxious that you damaged your eyes, monitor yourself for any light sensitivity that may develop, as well as blurred or distorted vision.

Following a solar eclipse in the United Kingdom in 1999, several thousand people rang helplines or attended special eclipse clinics, reported an article in the U.S. The result could be permanent damage to your retina.

Symptoms of solar retinopathy can occur within hours of looking at the sun.

So, how can you tell if you've had eye damage from the eclipse?

According to Dr. B. Ralph Chou, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and a former optometry professor, there are no pain receptors in the retina, so if you stare at the sun all day, you won't be able to feel a thing.

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Patty Buehler, a Bend eye surgeon, says eclipse viewers should make sure to shield their eyes by wearing protective glasses that are ISO-approved.

If you're feeling a little weird - some people have posted on social media about having headaches and nausea - after looking at the eclipse, it could be a sign of something else. You can burn your retina, reports Time. For those who don't want to hold onto the glasses, Astronomers Without Borders will be collecting eclipse glasses donations to distribute to schools in countries where future eclipses will be viewed. "But you can not let them become damaged", says Dr. Crist. One way to check your vision: the Amsler Grid, which detects blurred vision or sun damage.

A woman watches the eclipse from an Adler Planetarium parking lot.

If you experience discomfort or vision problems after watching the eclipse, visit your eye doctor.

According to preventblindness.org, looking directly at the eclipse can cause damage or destroy cells in the retina, which transmits what you see to the brain. Symptoms might include blurred vision, blind spots, distorted vision, color blindness and perception problems.

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